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ZF Friedrichshafen resumes talks over exit from Robert Bosch JV

ZF Friedrichshafen is resuming discussions to exit its joint venture with Robert Bosch, a move that if successful would allow it to successfully acquire TRW Automotive Holdings, people privy with the matter told Bloomberg. The parties plan to resume talks this week following a short break due to summer holidays.

ZF wants to divest its 50-percent stake in the steering-systems venture to Bosch to avoid antitrust problems since TRW boasts of a significant presence in steering systems, people privy with the matter said. The sources said if Bosch agrees with ZF, a deal to acquire TRW could come as early as next week. ZF and Bosch established the joint venture in 1999, which now boasts of around $5.5 billion in annual sales.

Both ZF and TRW have agreed on the broad outline of a merger, one of the sources told Bloomberg. The parties have talked about a price of between $105 and $110 per share, although the final figure is still under negotiations.

Read the entire article ZF Friedrichshafen resumes talks over exit from Robert Bosch JV

Robert Bosch, Mitsubishi and GS Yuasa creates battery JV

Robert Bosch GmbH is partnering with Mitsubishi Corp. and Japanese battery maker GS Yuasa International Ltd. to work on an auto lithium ion battery development project. The three companies are planning to create a joint venture that will conduct research and development as well as provide sales and marketing support to the three parent firms, Bosch said in a statement.

The batteries produced by the joint venture will be used to power vehicles like plug-in hybrids or electric cars. Bosch will own 50 percent of the joint venture, with Mitsubishi and GS Yuasa each holding a 25-percent stake.

The composition of the joint venture’s management and supervisory boards will reflect these stakes. The joint venture will commence operations early 2014 and will have its headquarters in Bosch hometown of Stuttgart in Germany.

Read the entire article Robert Bosch, Mitsubishi and GS Yuasa creates battery JV

VW and Bosch to pay at least $1.6B to customers over Dieselgate scandal

As the Dieselgate scandal continues its run, German carmaker Volkswagen AG and supplier Robert Bosch GmbH each reached a settlement agreement with owners of VW, Audi and Porsche diesel-powered vehicles found to be cheating emissions tests. The agreement, once approved, would entail a payment of at least $1.6 billion to accommodate specific actions – repair, buy back or compensation – meant to settle the companies’ differences with affected customers.

VW’s settlement agreement covers around 78,000 VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles powered by the group’s 3.0-liter TDI V6 diesel engine. This agreement became necessary because of the so-called Dieselgate scandal, which is basically a scheme implemented by VW to sell around 590,000 diesel-powered vehicles in the US – from model years 2009 to 2016 -- by making it seem that these units were cleaner than they actually were. Regulators have found out that VW employed a defeat device that helps these vehicles cheat on emissions tests.

Under the 3.0-liter TDI settlement program, Volkswagen would pay up to $1.2 billion in benefits assuming that 100 percent of affected customers take part; all eligible Generation 1 vehicles are bought back; and Generation 2 vehicles are fixed with an Emissions Compliant Repair to bring them to same emissions standards as they were certified.

Read the entire article VW and Bosch to pay at least $1.6B to customers over Dieselgate scandal

Fiat’s Turkish JV eyes $1B investment to build Bravo successor

Fiat's joint venture in Turkey, Tofas, is planning a $1-billion investment to build a family of compact cars replacing the Bravo in Europe. Three new cars will be built starting next year, primarily for export. According to sources of Automotive News Europe, the family will include a hatchback, sedan and station wagon.

The hatchback and the sedan will replace the Bravo and the Linea, respectively. According to Tofas last year, it would invest $520 million to build 580,000 units of a new sedan model. It recently announced that it would produce 700,000 units of a new hatchback and station wagon in Turkey, for a total investment of $1 billion starting this year while the production will run from 2016 to 2023.

Tofas said in a filing with the bourse that a significant portion of the vehicles are for exports, adding that discussion with Fiat on the details for the conditions of investment, sales and procurement are already in the final stage. Tofas saw sales of the Bravo drop 59 percent to 3,078 units in the first nine months of 2014, according to JATO Dynamics.

Read the entire article Fiat’s Turkish JV eyes $1B investment to build Bravo successor

Wolf-Henning Scheider has resigned from Robert Bosch to join engine parts maker Mahle. He was chief of Bosch's automotive division. Bosch is now grouping all automotive activities grouped under the new mobility solutions business sector, and has assigned Rolf Bulander to take over Scheider’s role.

Bulander will also be in charge of Bosch’s diesel systems, gasoline systems, and starter motors and generators divisions as well as for the electrical drives division. Dirk Hoheisel, meanwhile, will take charge of Bosch’s automotive steering business as well as the chassis systems control, car multimedia, and automotive electronics divisions.

Assuming Scheider’s sales and marketing roles will be Markus Heyn, who was most recently president of the Bosch diesel systems unit. He will also be in charge of the automotive aftermarket division and the ETAS and Bosch Engineering subsidiaries.

Read the entire article Wolf-Henning Scheider quits Bosch, joins Mahle

By 2025, fuel-cell technology will be less costly due to greater economies of scale and will be commercially viable for mass use in vehicles, according to Wolf-Henning Scheider, head of Bosch's automotive division. Fuel cell vehicles still have to gain acceptance due to prohibitive development costs despite their capability to travel five times longer distance than electric cars and take less time to refuel.

Scheider remarked that fuel cell vehicles are a viable alternative to other zero-emission vehicle technologies. He quipped that while fuel-cell powertrains might still be twice as costly to build than those found in electric cars in 2025, the higher operating range of fuel-cell cars would make them a viable alternative.

Carmakers developing fuel cell vehicles include Daimler, Hyundai, Nissan, Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Honda and General Motors are all developing fuel-cell vehicles. Toyota and Honda have plans to commence sales of fuel-cell vehicles next year.

Read the entire article Bosch exec says fuel-cell tech will be commercially viable by 2025

As it pushes to grab a larger share of the auto market in China, Volkswagen agreed to extend its joint venture with FAW Group Corp. by 25 years. Under the new agreement, Volkswagen and FAW will "significantly expand" existing r&d activities in China while into new business areas particularly on alternative drive technologies, VW said in a statement that the current agreement with FAW will expire in 2016, but has been extended to 2041.

The German carmaker announced in July it will make a EUR2 billion investment with FAW to build two more assembly sites in China. As of late, VW operates eight car-making sites and nine component facilities in China. VW also recently announced it would make a EUR100 million ($126 million) invest with SAIC Motor Corp. in the Shanghai Volkswagen proving ground in Xinjiang province, western China.

VW also has a joint venture in China with SAIC. The German carmaker has seen significant gains in China, which has helped it offset slow recovery in Europe and slumping sales in other emerging countries.

Read the entire article Volkswagen extends joint venture with FAW to 2041

Infiniti seems determined to increase its sales in China and after announcing the long-wheelbase version of the Q50 as well as the Juke-based ESQ, the Japanese manufacturer its taking things even further. Nissan announced today that it formed a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Corp. in China, which will produce Infiniti models exclusively for the biggest automobile market.

The president of the joint venture, which will be called Dongfeng Infiniti Motor Co, will be Infiniti China’s Managing Director Daniel Kirchert.

The company aims to sell 100,000 vehicles in China by 2018 and the joint venture start producing the Q50L in November, while a long-wheelbase version of the QX50 SUV will be produced starting 2015.

Read the entire article Nissan and Dongfeng announce new JV, will build Infiniti vehicles in China

With ZF Friedrichshafen's planned acquisition of TRW Automotive on full blast, another German supplier is bound to benefit from the transaction, albeit unexpectedly. Bosch recently announced plans to gain full control of its 50-50 steering joint venture with ZF.

That came after Bosch’s partner disclosed intentions to sell its stake in the joint venture – which build electronic steering systems critical to development of driverless cars – to the largest supplier in the world and purchase TRW for $105.60 a share. ZF has to let go of its holdings in the joint venture, ZF Lenksysteme, to avoid antitrust issues in the acquisition of TRW.

ZF doesn’t have to worry about losing a place in the steering segment since TRW also has a steering systems business largely involved in developing technology that could pave way for autonomous driving. ZF will have to pay TRW around $12.4 billion in cold cash, based on equity value.

Read the entire article Robert Bosch is silent beneficiary of ZF’s TRW takeover

China has told three German car parts suppliers that they would no longer be able to independently manage Chinese units and have to create joint ventures with local suppliers, Stefan Wolf, chief executive ElringKlinger told Stuttgarter Zeitung. The decision, once confirmed, would fit the increasingly daunting stance that the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is taking towards the foreign car industry.

NDRC started probing foreign carmakers after receiving complaints that these companies have been overpricing products sold to Chinese customers. According to Wolf, he knew those three companies that are now obligated to seek a partnership with a local company.

He clarified ElringKlinger was not affected by the order, for now. He said that if China gives similar orders to ElringKlinger, it would mean an attack on intellectual property and since 50 percent of the company is being taken away, this means an expropriation.

Read the entire article China tells German parts makers to create local joint ventures

ZF Friedrichshafen is aiming to become the second-largest parts supplier in the world, but that target is being put on hold by negotiations to exit a joint venture with Robert Bosch, people privy with the matter told Bloomberg. ZF is seeking to sell its stake in the joint venture before it could complete an agreement to acquire TRW Automotive Holdings.

Breaking down the partnership, however, is complex and several key parties are away for summer holidays, the sources said. ZF wants to close the deal with TRW in the first half of September, the people told Bloomberg. ZF and TRW have discussed a sale at a price of around $105 to $110 per share, although the final amount is still under negotiations.

In July, ZF and its advisers at Citigroup Inc. and other banks had been exploring a proposal that values TRW at between $110 and $112.50 per share, two people told Bloomberg last month.

Read the entire article Talks over Bosch venture exit stalling ZF’s acquisition of TRW Automotive

The Chinese joint ventures of Japanese carmakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. are also cutting the prices of spare parts while authorities are looking into monopolistic practices in the auto industry. According to statement on its Web site, GAC Toyota Motor Co. -- a venture between Toyota and GAC Group -- will trim prices on some parts starting Aug. 18.

Guangqi Honda Automobile Co. – a venture between Honda and GAC -- will cut prices of some parts from Sept. 1. China is stepping up its efforts to determine how much foreign carmakers charge for vehicles and spare parts.

China commenced it probe into possible antitrust violations in the auto industry at the end of 2011, with state media accusing carmakers of inflating prices and overcharging consumers. BMW, Daimler and Audi have announced similar moves.

Read the entire article Toyota and Honda joint ventures are cutting prices of spare parts in China

Daimler and Nissan have reached final agreement to set up a 50-50 joint venture that will produce future Mercedes and Infiniti compact cars in Mexico, sources privy with the matter told Reuters. The carmakers are getting ready for an announcement of a "substantial investment" to develop the vehicles underpinned by Daimler's front-wheel-drive architecture and build them at Nissan's Aguascalientes site in Mexico.

The joint venture is expected to broaden Nissan's premium Infiniti lineup, expand Daimler's production in North American and boosts the carmakers’ relationship with each other. The carmakers said Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche and Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn were to unveil the venture at a news conference Friday.

Daimler remarked that the new manufacturing agreement will be the "largest project in the global collaboration” of the German carmaker and the Renault-Nissan alliance. The agreement will help Infiniti fill a hole at the bottom end of its range; as its new SUV, sedan and coupe share parts and the MFA platform with successors to the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and B-Class models, GLA and CLA, sources have said.

Read the entire article Daimler and Renault-Nissan set up a production joint venture in Mexico

BMW has extended its joint venture with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings until 2028, which could help the carmakers expand further in the largest auto market in the world. BMW has been collaborating with Brilliance since 2003. BMW also builds the X1 off-roader and the long-wheelbase versions of its 3-series and 5-series models in factories operated by their joint venture BMW Brilliance Automotive in China.

Analysts at ISI Group said in a note that a strong partner and long-term visibility is important for BMW to safeguard its position in the country. The China auto market surged 15.7 percent in 2013 to 17.9 million passenger vehicles, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

BMW targets to sell 2 million vehicles this year. It sold a record 1.96 million cars in 2013, 20 percent of which were delivered in China. BMW is bent on expanding its operations in China as it bids to reduce its reliance on Europe, which has remained sluggish despite some indications of recovery.

Read the entire article BMW and Brilliance China Automotive extend joint venture to 2028

Robert Bosch GmbH is expecting its sales to grow between 3 and 5 percent this year, even as it shifts its focus onto Asian markets and developing Internet-connected sensors. Bosch intends to penetrate into a thriving market for Internet-enabled devices and systems that allows autonomous driving.

Bosch Chairman Volkmar Denner remarked that they would continue with their traditional business while opening up new fields, allowing them to benefit from their broad technological and industrial expertise.

The company said that the focus shift toward more sophisticated vehicles should lead to a 25-percent surge in ultrasound sensor output this year to 50 million devices, and a doubling of radar and video sensors production to more than 2 million units.

Read the entire article Robert Bosch expects 3 to 5 percent sales growth in 2014

The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a preliminary evaluation into the likelihood that around 50 EV chargers made by Robert Bosch LLC may overheat and result in a fire. The investigation came after a driver of a 2013 Nissan Leaf reported smoke emissions while the vehicle was charging.

Bosch spokeswoman Cheryl Kilborn stated that the German supplier was reviewing the filing and would cooperate with the investigation as it tries to determine the cause of the matter. On the other hand, Nissan spokesman Brian Brockman told Reuters in an e-mail that the Japanese carmaker was aware of the investigation and would assist in it as needed.

According to NHTSA and the consumer complaint filed in August 2013, the charger in issue -- a Bosch Power Xpress 240V -- had been charging for over an hour at 30 amps at a private home when indications of overheating, including a "strong burning smell," were noticed.

Read the entire article NHTSA opens preliminary probe onto Bosch EV chargers

Robert Bosch would commence producing an automatic parking system in 2015 for an anonymous customer. Dirk Hoheisel, a management board member at member, disclosed last week at the SAE International's World Congress that fully autonomous vehicles are expected in the next decade.

Bosch's parking assist maneuvers a vehicle into or out of tight parking spaces, even if no one is driving it. The driver just can get out of the vehicle and commence the parking maneuver through a smartphone or key fob. To stop the maneuver, the driver just needs to take his finger off the button.

Bosch’s parking assist also works wonders during parallel parking. Hoheisel told Automotive News that automated parking is the next logical step for autonomous vehicles. He remarked that the system employs ultrasonic sensors and cameras to track the vehicles movements.

Read the entire article Bosch to produce an automatic parking system in 2015 for undisclosed customer

Renault still plans to revive its Alpine brand even after terminating a partnership with British specialist sports car maker Caterham, reports said. The carmakers disclosed in November 2012 a 50-50 agreement to design, develop and build sports cars. At the time, the carmakers said they planned to roll out the first vehicles by 2016.

Renault is set announce to unions the unwinding of the joint venture with Caterham, but will pursue solo development of a roadster as it bids to revive its own Alpine brand, a source told Reuters. Renault and Caterham had intended to use their Formula One renown to build a following for affordable performance cars in Europe and Asia.

Tony Fernandes, a tycoon who bought Caterham in 2011 and controls the F1 team of the same name, had vowed more Renault-built models to transform the UK company into a global premium player. The Caterham F1 team, however, was dead last in the 2013 F1 season and has gotten no points since it entering the sport as Lotus Racing three years prior. This prompted Fernandes to give a warning in that he might walk away unless matters turn better.

Read the entire article Renault to pursue Alpine revival despite ending Caterham JV

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China is seeking to relax ownership restrictions on joint ventures by foreign carmakers despite intense opposition from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Currently, foreign carmakers are required to partner with local companies to be able to build vehicles in China.

Likewise, foreign shareholders are not allowed to own more than 50 percent of the joint ventures. During a recent press conference, ministry spokesman Xiao Chunquan remarked that the agency will join other ministries to determine how to implement the reforms, but did not provide a timeline for relaxing the restrictions.

The association, which has state-owned carmakers as key members, expressed the last strong opposition to any relaxation of the restrictions. "Relaxing the current foreign ownership restrictions will wipe out Chinese brands," the association said in a statement. It said that foreign carmakers could use the competitive advantage of their global supply chains to "support a price strategy to kill Chinese brands in the cradle."

Read the entire article Chinese industry ministry seeking to loosen JV ownership limits

General Motors Co. and Isuzu Motors Ltd. are making a $60-million investment to upgrade technology in DMAX Ltd., their diesel engine joint venture in Moraine, Ohio. The investment will allow the companies to enable design changes to comply with future emission requirements as well as keep 500 workers at the site, GM said in a statement.

Since 2000, the venture – owned 60 percent by GM and 40 percent by Suzuki -- has built nearly 1.6 million diesel engines for heavy-duty trucks in the United States since starting operations in 2000, GM said. The plant builds the Duramax 6.6-liter turbo diesel engine featured in the heavy-duty versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. The engine could also be offered for the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans.

According to GM, a 2.8-liter turbo diesel engine will be available in 2015 for the 2016-model mid-size pickup trucks, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. The company is also considering diesel variants of the light-duty versions of the Silverado and Sierra. The plant has received $760 million since 2000 from GM and Suzuki.

Read the entire article GM and Isuzu are investing $60 mil for DMAX joint venture
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